The 5 Most Common Myths of Creativity

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Even with all of the articles, columns and blog posts on innovation, the fact that the myths of creativity still exist is astounding.  Below is the list of the 5 most common myths of creativity that I attempt to dispel whenever I’m giving a speech or innovation workshop.

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The 5 Myths of Creativity are:

1) I’m not creative – this is one that I've taken on as a personal mission.  It’s amazing how many people don’t consider themselves creative.  We are born creative.  Watch young kids play with an empty toilet paper roll.  How many different ways can they find a use for it?  Over the years of schooling and our career, we are taught that conformity is the path to success.  Conformity leads to average which leads to boring.  Creativity is about coming up with ideas that stand-out.  You are creative.  What’s missing is the knowing how to unlock that natural ability.

2) The best ideas come from serendipity – This myth is the one that holds more people back from even attempting to be creative.  They have this belief that some outside event, such as falling in the bathtub, is needed before the idea is formed.  What may look like serendipity, is in reality, the result of years of laying the mental groundwork.

3) Creativity is the result of the lone inventor – We have a saying in the innovation industry; “There’s no such thing as a truly new idea.  Ideas are the result of building on the work of others”.  Many of the creative ideas that led to creating great companies were the result of a team.  Some examples:  Microsoft, Intel, Google, Skype and many more.

4) Fear is a motivator for creativity – If you see a management team using fear (e.g. your division will be closed down if you don’t come up with a new product) as a motivator for creativity, sell the stock and run away as fast as possible.  It’s been my experience that the happiest most up-beat employees tend to be the most creative.

5) It’s all about money – When people see an idea that becomes a major market success, they believe becoming rich was the initial motivator.  In some cases that is true but not in most cases.  When you dig into the motivation for most ideas, it was to solve a problem that others had overlooked.  It was in solving the unspoken need that drove the success of the idea.

What are the most common myths you've heard?

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